Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Family First

Every once in a while, something truly new and unexpected happens. When I learned several years ago that most people have something like 80% of the same thoughts each and every day, I started to pay attention to when I have a completely new thought, something I've never thought of or considered before. Something that takes even me by surprise. I don't know if this is a sad comment on me, but I don't notice brand-new thoughts and ideas every day. Not even every week. But a lot of good story ideas come from these kernels of ah-ha!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Open Endings: A Lazy Writer's "Device"

I'm on a roll after yesterday's rant, and I think now's a good time to point out one of my most loathed "plot devices": open endings. There's nothing quite like getting to the end of a story and not having it really end. The author gets to say, "You choose," but what I hear is, "I was too lazy to wrap this story up in a logical way, so I'm hoping you can do that in your spare time," or, just as bad, "This story is an artistic reflection of real life so of course it can't have a definite ending!"

Open-ended stories are the result of lazy writers. I despise them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Success Does Not Mean You Failed Your Genre

My recent infatuation with short stories led to me to the library and ultimately to The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Fourteenth Annual Collection

I should have skipped straight to the stories, but I started with Terri Windling's summation of the year in fantasy, thinking to learn about books I might enjoy. Instead, I was treated to an insulting and irritating tone of superiority. Windling and I got off on the wrong foot when she states that "...fantasy...has made a solid comeback after too many years when all we saw were those endless Tolkien clones clogging the bestseller lists. ...[N]ow there are some fine alternatives for the serious fantasy reader." (emphasis mine)

Friday, July 16, 2010

What's in an Age?

I mentioned yesterday that I don't yet know the age of my next protagonist. It seems peculiar even to me. I mean, how can I plot a novel without knowing how old my main character is going to be? The thing is, I thought she was going to be in her midtwenties. I planned the novel that way. It works. The journey works with her young but with some life experience under her belt. The only thing is that it works so much better if my character is younger. Like sixteen or seventeen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Post-plotting Slump

Last week, I finished plotting my next novel. I now know, in a vague, overarcing way, exactly what's going to happen. I have a pretty good idea who my main character is (though not a name, and not an age...but I'll get to that tomorrow). I know who her main friends are, and who her main enemies are, including those who walk the line between being a friend and an enemy. I know the lessons she'll learn. I know her internal conflict and her external one. I know that I would dearly love to see novel on the bookshelves of bookstores everywhere and then to film, as I dream for ever novel before it's even written. Best yet, I know that it is a novel. It's something that will flesh out to be sellable. Always a HUGE plus.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Critiquing Holly Black's Website

I've been thinking more about what I said in the Halfway through the Year post: that White Cat by Holly Black is one of the books most frequently on my mind this year. It was one of those things I typed and then realized how true a sentiment it was. So, in honor of how much Holly Black has had me thinking, I thought she'd be a good author to feature in an author website critique.

Here are my findings on Holly Black's website.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Allure of Short Fiction

I haven't written short fiction since college. I haven't read it since then, either. About the time I finished my creative writing class and graduated, I realized that to pack in the information that I wanted, I needed many more pages. Which led to my first novel being over 1,300 pages. Whew! I got that out of my system, and my next novel was only in the low 300s—much better written and far more marketable.

I didn't think I'd ever look back. For one, I want to make a living as an author, and I think even short-story editors who've manned their post at various short-story magazines for the last twenty-five years would be hard pressed to point out one person who's made a good living on short stories alone.

Monday, July 12, 2010

An Unwelcome Reminder of How Spoiled I Am

Every once in a while, something happens to remind me that I'm a very lucky, very spoiled woman. Lucky in the fact that I was born to a middle-class American family, which immediately put me in a position superior to that of more than half the women currently living on Earth. And by "superior" I mean that I have all my basic needs met, have birth control, access to education, and a strong sense of self-worth and an ability to achieve my dreams. I have a wonderful husband who cherishes me and spoils me on a daily basis, in ways private and public. I have great friends who I love spending time with—so much so that my weekends are booked into August. I have a job that I love, working for myself and from home, two things that suit me very nicely. I love my job so much that when I was without work for two days, I was already missing it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When a Romance Is Just a Romance

I recently finished two of Debbie Macomber's novellas bundled together in The Manning Grooms. This was my first time reading Macomber, and her writing, both in style and content, took me back to my teens, when I first started reading romances. It's been a long time since I read a story that was just a romance.

Most of my romance reading these days falls into two categories: action romance and paranormal romance, with the occasional mystery romance thrown in.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Siren Call of Harry

I feel so refreshed after this last weekend/vacation. I didn't go anywhere, but I also didn't have a lot of work to do. In fact, I was able to take Monday completely off. No work. No Number One Novels details to take care of. I didn't email. I used my computer for a total of two things (printing out a coupon and settling a debate with Cody), which, combined, took less than five minutes. So little computer time in a day is unheard of for me. I didn't realize how much I needed the break until I got it, either.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Whiteboard Pictures

I'm not sure if these pictures will show the wonder that is my new whiteboard. Cody wasn't around to pose to show the perspective. Here it is, in all it's current glory:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Late Favorite

A while ago I posted about a few of my favorite birthday presents. This one didn't make it on the list only because it came late: Cody got me a roll-out, tape-up, super-thin whiteboard that's six feet long and three and a half feet tall. After some finagling, we managed to get it stuck up along the only wall with a free six feet of length: the hallway.

I've been playing around with how to use the board. The idea is for it to be my new brainstorming space.